Monday, November 9, 2015

Debbie's Story


Larry and I pulled through the gate of  Woodlawn National Cemetery and drove by the rows of white tombstones that spread out on both sides of the drive.  We were meeting with the family of the recently deceased, a veteran of the United States Navy, for interment.  It would be a small gathering, just a few family members and us.

It was a beautiful October day,  I had gazed out the car window the entire way, taking in the oranges and golds of the leaves that were still clinging to the branches, silently hoping they'd not let go quite yet.  I love the Autumn in New York, it's always been my favorite season.  But she is like the perfect guest who comes for a short visit, and despite all your imploring, never stays long enough. I hated to see her go.  

There was a cold breeze as we joined the others beneath one of the hardwoods that lines the driveway there.  I shivered and wished for a moment that I'd worn a warmer coat.  Two gentlemen in suits presented Debbie with the cinerary urn holding her father's ashes and then proceeded to lead our small procession out from under the trees into the sunlight and onto a pathway through the cemetery towards the columbarium, a bordering wall that harbors hundreds of niches holding the remains of service members who have gone on before. We stopped and stood quietly as the container was placed into its vault. Scripture was read, a hymn sung, prayers spoken, a few memories shared.

I'm sure those two men in suits standing to the rear of us wondered at the message of forgiveness that filled the conversation in those final moments.  But that is the theme of this story, one that tells of a little girl living an unhappy childhood with a physically and emotionally abusive father.  But grace came visiting when she was still a child, and she was rescued by another Father, the one who had created her and loved her unconditionally.

Many years later she would travel with her husband across several states to bring her father, now very old and sick,  back to her home in New York. Giving up her home daycare, she devoted her time to care for the one person in her life who probably deserved it the least. But because forgiveness has been the theme of her story, the same loving Father who had rescued a suffering child many years earlier mercifully reached down and rescued that child's father in his old age.  

The air seemed warmer when we walked back towards our cars and the colors of the trees appeared more vibrant than ever. The chorus to that old Fannie Crosby hymn was running through my mind as we drove back through the gates towards home.  This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.  This is my story....
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